Know you guinea pig, know your poo

Post Reply

Post   » Sun Jun 23, 2013 9:23 pm

I am still trying to get pictures up. Thanks everyone.

I was hoping everyone may want to chime in and give their experiences, info., advice, photos etc. Thank you. Lara and the gang

Know your Guinea Pig, know your poo

If ever in doubt, take your piggie and a sample of their stool to your vet.

Whether you are a long time guinea pig owner or a newbie, one of the most valuable pieces of information to learn is that guinea pigs cannot vomit; what goes in only goes out one way. I have learned that guinea pigs are very complex and sensitive creatures. When one of my guinea pigs died (unfortunately from cancer and all was done to help her and she still passed) is that "knowing" your guinea pig, watching their behavior on a daily basis is key to you understanding them and their health. Guinea pigs have a very sensitive GI tract (Gastro Intestinal track)and being non dairy and vegans, they eat all day long. I have realized that monitoring my guinea pigs stool on a regular basis has helped me detect early signs of illness. After you read this I strongly recommend you read about diarrhea and guinea pigs, which can be fatal and come on very quickly. I have found that monitoring my guinea pigs stool helps me understand their general well being and possible early signs of illness, since guinea pigs, once they do get ill can decline rather quickly, even a subtle change in diet can cause a guinea pig's stool to alter. Unless your piggy has bloat, or a specific circumstance,remember hay hay hay hay hay, number one food for piggies!


Guinea pig stool color varies between black or dark brown and anywhere in between that scope.
Depending on what you are feeding your guinea pig the color may vary. If you are feeding your guinea pigs a lot of beets, for example, the stool will have a hue of dark red or purple.

Solely a lighter brown stool may point to bloat or another illness.


Guinea pigs also have stool that they eat on occasion to help their digestive track. This feces is usually a green shade in colour. These are eaten by guinea pigs to keep their digestive track healthy. Please see GL medical reference.
[Edit - Lynx: these greenish cecal feces are often very odorous. See for more information.]


Information is in the document and on Guinea Lynx medical site and also on the Guinea Lynx forum under Reference and First Hand Accounts, Bowel Obstruction/Bloating Xrays. Bloat can be fatal, there is a lot of helpful information on bloat in forums and it is recommended to take bloat very seriously and consult your vet.


Guinea pig stool usually does not have a really strong smell, unless you need to clean their cage more often.
If your guinea pig's stool has a really strong odor it is possible there is a secondary health problem.
Guinea pig stool that has a strong odor can also point to a slow GI track (gastro intestinal) and that the stool is not moving through fast enough or there is a blockage or infection in your guinea pigs intestines. Since guinea pigs need to eat frequently, if they are not their intestinal track will not function properly.

Guinea pigs can also have an anal infection, inflammation etc. that can cause defecating to be painful.
On a similar note strong smelly mooshy stool can point to mal absorption, that the guinea pig is not absorbing any nutrients from their food and/or a secondary illness.

Strong smelling stool can also point to a larger health issue.
[Edit - Lynx: If you notice strong smelling poop, especially if greenish in color, these may be the cecal feces that are reingested for their nutritional value. See Coprophagy above.]

Size and consistency:

Stool of course will vary in size depending on the age and size of your guinea pig. Variation in size can also point to dehydration (too small), clumpy (possible intestinal or bacterial infection in the gut. In some cases there can be colon issues).
  • Guinea pig stool that is not solid in color also points to a GI tract issue or larger illness.
  • Tear drop shaped stool can point to a slow GI tract, infection or other issues.
  • If your guinea pig is producing blood or weeking while pooing then see a vet immediately, there could be serious mechanical obstruction, inflammation or tear in the anus or intestinal system.
  • Clumpy stool can also point to an absorption issue.
  • Soft stool can point to too many greens or fruit, cutting down on these and increasing hay is suggested. A change in diet can also affect your guinea pigs stool, even adding an unknown vegetable and sometimes in older piggies too much grass. Soft stool as with any abnormalities in stool can point to an illness.
  • Antibiotics and pain killers can sometimes change the consistency of your guinea's stool. intolerance, allergy, wrong dosage in antibiotics should be taken into consideration.
  • Small dehydrated stool can point to GI Stasis, the gastrointestinal tract slowing or shutting down. Guinea pig's water intake is as important as food intake.
  • Bloat can also cause inconsistency in stool but increasing fiber is not recommended.

Abnormalities in stool:

It is possible that your piggie has eaten a small peice or coroplast or such and is causing obstruction in the bowel. A foreign object could be lodged in the system for a short or long period of time before it can cause damage.

There can be genial [genetic] abnormalities in the intestine and should not be ruled out.

Mucus in stool can point to an infection or bacteria in the intestinal track.

Blood in stool is serious and should be addressed immediatly.


Hay is the most important food group in a healthy guinea pigs diet, it gives them the fiber they need to have a healthy GI track, proper digestion and healthy colon.

The elderly pig's stool can tend to vary a lot, so it is important to monitor their stool frequently. Elderly pigs can be more sensitive to everything, so as your piggy ages please monitor and adjust to their daily needs.

Poo and More poo:

Most importantly, guinea pigs eat all day long, it is a priority to make sure your guinea pig is pooing alot as well. If they are not, this may point to an illness.

Male guinea pigs (boars) can also have troubles pooing sometimes, this is called impaction, please refer to impaction section on GL medical reference. If feces is not exremented then infection and fermentation which could be fatal can occur.

Diarrhea should be treated as an emergency and your guinea should be taken to the vet, please see section on GL medical reference on diarrhea.

If you suspect your piggies poo is not normal, please take them to your exotic specialist vet, and bring a sample! :)
There are two different types of tests, a simple fecal smear and an extended one. Of course the more in depth the test the more acute to any problems will show up.

Every guinea pig is different and because of this your guinea's poo could look a tad different. Your guinea pig's stool can also change and shift throughout an illness.

Thanks so much Mary and Dave for your help!!!!!!
There are more good pics on this Guinea Lynx thread:
Guinea Lynx :: Topic - Soft Stool/Squeaking and Straining While Pooing viewtopic.php?t=64549

User avatar

Post   » Sun Jun 23, 2013 9:50 pm

I know you worked very hard on this. Hopefully it will help other people.

When you suggest causes, do you have posts you can refer people to? (example: "Mucus in stool can point to an infection or bacteria in the intestinal track.") I seem to recall other people suggesting some additional causes - hopefully they will post experiences and suggestions.


Post   » Sun Jun 23, 2013 10:08 pm

Thank you Lynx, I can comb GL for posts, I know that they are out there thanks to you! :) Yes, I am hoping that this thread becomes a group effort! Best, Lara, S'more the more mores, Little Miss Tia Girl, Mizz Cinnamoo and the white knight Romeo choo choochi Anderson aka Chooch le boo
Best to you and your fur babies.


Post   » Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:57 am

Wenton5 this is amazing thank you!!!

User avatar
I dissent.

Post   » Mon Jun 24, 2013 7:54 am

This is really neat! I copied/pasted it into a Word document here at work, and will take a closer look at it when I have some time later today. If you like, I can plug in some additional GL links.

User avatar

Post   » Mon Jun 24, 2013 9:14 am

Oh this is so cool. Alden and I were going to do something similar with photos of good poos and bad poos. I was supposed to solicit everyone for poo pics of all types to accompany it. But I have been so preoccupied with the sick pig I have and cannot get enough sleep to even think about it much.

User avatar

Post   » Mon Jun 24, 2013 9:28 am

If you come up with some good pics and new ideas, I can incorporate them into whatever I add to the guide that is pulled from Wenton's and your ideas.

On the emergency page, I try to make clear that the signs of illness are not hard and fast and something else may be going on. It is the analysis of various types of poos we don't want to become confusing on.

Also, there are a few people who dealt with soft poos for an extended period of time and it was very difficult to resolve. Reprising these posts and what was tried and the difficulty would be helpful.

I bolded the categories for you, Wenton.

For the Love of Pigs

Post   » Mon Jun 24, 2013 12:32 pm

A poo "gallery" would be nice.

And I agree that somehow pulling together the various posts dealing with chronic soft poos would be helpful. I'm guessing various things cause ongoing soft poo problems, and there don't seem to be answers in the vet world - i.e. many things have been tried with these pigs, with little or no improvement. I've had 3 pigs over the years with soft poo problems & never found out what was wrong.

Thanks for setting this up, Wenton!


Post   » Mon Jun 24, 2013 12:34 pm

Yeah, everyone is brainstorming, refining and giving input, this is great. We could collaborate something fabulous. I agree with you Lynx that all the info. should be organized in a way that the reader doesn't get overwhelmed( that was my interpretation of what you said) But at least it gives the reader some sense of what "may" be going on with their pig. Yes?
Thanks everyone so much!
L and the gang
I will try to find threads too....


Post   » Mon Jun 24, 2013 12:48 pm

Maybe a signs of illness type of thing. I like the gallery idea... thx

For the Love of Pigs

Post   » Mon Jun 24, 2013 12:50 pm

I have two threads: one for Lucy & one for Elle. I also know BrendaB had one a few years ago for Sierra, I think. Of course, there are many others.

Hope it's ok to mention this now?? Lucy had been on Metacam for weeks & the vet suggested we try getting her off (not because of soft poops) and we did & her poops firmed up. Still have problems if she gets more than a little greens.

Anyhow, somewhere on some thread someone mentioned what I will call the "cardboard cure". Just before we stopped the Metacam, we gave Lucy a nice, clean piece of corrugated cardboard. Don't know if that really helped. Huh.

I know it's a big job, but if all this info is pulled together, maybe some patterns will emerge. Yes, signs of illness would be good.

User avatar

Post   » Mon Jun 24, 2013 1:09 pm

Just a note to anyone who posts on this thread with personal suggestions - please give permission to use your photos in your own threads if you haven't (and you are recommending your thread). I need your permission to upload them here.

User avatar
Supporter in '13

Post   » Mon Jun 24, 2013 8:12 pm

My beautiful girl Buttercup struggled with chronic soft, smelly droppings for the entire 7 months that she was with me. I feel like we tried almost everything, but nothing helped. She completely stumped all of her doctors. It just about broke my heart when I lost her, but hopefully my experience will be able to help someone else. Unfortunately I can't give advice on what worked for us because nothing did, but at least this might provide ideas of possible treatment options that are available. I went back and looked at her various discharge papers but a lot of this is from memory. I hope I'm not forgetting anything.


Symptoms: Chronic soft droppings that were foul smelling, signs of pain while defecating (squeaking, arching her back, and flapping her ears while going to the bathroom), and gassiness. She had normal droppings on very rare occasions.

Diagnostics: Fecal float, fecal gram stain, complete blood count and blood chemistry panel, whole body radiographs, and focal caudal abdominal ultrasound. There were no signs of any abnormalities. The next step would have been to do an endoscopy of Buttercup's colon to see if there was something in or irritating her distal GI tract, but she would have had to be put under anesthesia and there were no guarantees that it would provide us an answer. We did not want to put her through that.

Diet Changes: We did a trial period where we completely eliminated vegetables. It was determined that vegetables were not the cause, but Buttercup was fed vegetables in moderation as we did not want to exacerbate the issue. We tried switching pellets from Oxbow Cavy Cuisine to KMS, then eliminated pellets entirely. Tried different types of hay. Nothing helped. It was suggested on her medical thread to try feeding corn husks due to the additional fiber, but I was unable to try that as I did not have access to fresh ears of corn at the time.

Supplements: Bene-bac Plus gel, Kyo-Dophilus capsules that I broke apart and sprinkled on top of her vegetables, and Bio-Sponge by Platinum Performance. Her vet said that these might not help, but it would not hurt to give it to her. I also tried feeding Buttercup "poop soup" from her cage mate Piggy.

Pain medication: At one point Buttercup was on three different pain medications, each one given 2x a day. They were Tramadol (an opioid), Gabapentin (an anticonvulsant), and Metacam (an anti-inflammatory). There were no changes in the signs of pain that she exhibited while on these medications.

Treatments: 2 courses of Flagyl and a subcutaneous Vitamin B12 injection from her vet. The B12 injection was given to help with any type of malabsorption in the GI tract.


Other medical issues:
  • Buttercup was *very* small for her age. Not even in terms of being weight, but in terms of her bone structure. We knew from her previous owners that she was around 3-4 years old, but her vet said that she was physically only the size of a 6 month old.

    In the five weeks between a vet visit on 2/15 /12 and 3/21/12 she had started to form bilateral cataracts that had no previously been observed. This might have been due to an underlying endocrine disease or congenital defect. She would have eventually gone blind.

    She sometimes twitched very violently in her sleep.

    This was not so much a medical issue but definitely one of her quirks and might be worth noting. Buttercup was very interested in water and drank large amounts of it. This may or may not have been related to her medical issues.
On 5/2/12 I rushed Buttercup to the emergency room because I noticed a small amount of blood around her anus. She was discharged after a few hours because her vitals were stable and the blood had stopped, but they didn't know what it was from. She seemed completely normal and it was almost like nothing had even happened. Even though she had many medical problems, Buttercup was not an ill looking pig. Her vet even said to me once that if he hadn't been told about all of her poo problems, he would have thought that she was extremely healthy. Ten days later, on 5/12/12, Buttercup had what was most likely either a stroke or a seizure and passed away that night.

Video of Buttercup straining while going to the bathroom:

Link to her thread on GuineaLynx:

Photo gallery of her abnormal poops (Lynx, feel free to add this photo permanently to the thread):


Post   » Mon Jun 24, 2013 8:45 pm

Echo90. you are wonderful! I followed your thread on poor little Buttercup and am so sad she passed but she has left us with the gift of learning from her. Thank you so much for posting here. Lynx, can Bookfan post her threads on this page? Thank you again everyone, this is just so great. How nice for a guinea owner, especially a younger one who is needing to learn something and very visual and computer oriented who may be able to understand their piggy more and if such the case be able to spot sign of illness by understanding poo. May you all and your fur babies be well. Lara, S'more the more mores, Little Miss Tia girl, Mizz Momma Cinnamoo and the white knight Romeo Choo choochi Anderson.
P.s. I have family in town but will search threads after they leave.

User avatar

Post   » Mon Jun 24, 2013 9:55 pm

That was an excellent summary, Ech90! I added your photo.

All the diagnostics you had done, you say there was nothing out of the norm? No imbalance of the gut flora?

User avatar
Supporter in '13

Post   » Mon Jun 24, 2013 11:02 pm

Nope! We did two fecal floats and one fecal gram stain and nothing showed up.

Despite this, I think that her vet still suspected that there was some sort of imbalance at play. Her 3/21 discharge papers state, "Since this is a chronic issue, it is likely that she has some changes to her GI tract (parasites, disruption of her GI flora) that she has been living with for a long time. There is no evidence of gastrointestinal disease on either radiographs or ultrasound."

I just went through all of her discharge papers again and old emails with her vet and noticed that there was actually one slight abnormality in her bloodwork that I completely forgot about. Her vet wrote, "She had a mildly low total protein on her chemistry screen. This may be normal for her, or it is possible that she is losing a small amount of protein in her GI tract. I would like to recheck this at some point in the future with a smaller blood test, but I am not super concerned about it right now."

I had totally forgotten about this, I think because he wasn't too concerned about it so we really didn't talk about it that much.

User avatar
Supporter in '14

Post   » Tue Jun 25, 2013 12:46 am


Those pictures bring back so many memories. I remember getting home and checking on Buttercup's progress before I even took off my coat. I was humming her song for days after you posted it.

I am glad you are back contributing. You and Buttercup had quite the journey. I was so sad when it ended poorly.

How is Piggy?

User avatar

Post   » Tue Jun 25, 2013 3:25 am

I have a a healthy poo pic or two or three. Will try and remember to retrieve them soon when a bit more awake. That is an impressive poo pic collection up above so sorry about the struggles with sweet Buttercup.

User avatar
Supporter in '13

Post   » Tue Jun 25, 2013 11:13 am

Delaine, that is so sweet of you. I still listen to "Build Me Up Buttercup" by The Foundations sometimes when I think about her. For those who don't know, that was Buttercup's song because she would "build me up" every time she had a good poo, "just to let me down" when they were followed by a million more wet mushy ones later. She was indeed a very special piggy who touched the hearts of so many.

Piggy passed away last August, just a few months after Buttercup. It happened very, very suddenly - literally within the span of a few hours. The necropsy showed ovarian cysts and white dots on her lungs that was possibly cancer. She had been to the vet so many times, but nobody had any idea that she was ill. It devastated me to have so many losses in such a short period of time, but grief counseling has helped. Buttercup, Piggy, and my cat Sally are together at Rainbow Bridge now and no one is in pain. Still, not a day goes by that I don't wish they were still here with me.

I took a picture of some of Mork and Mindy's very healthy looking droppings (They are my new guinea pigs that I adopted in the fall. Mindy is spayed!). I put a coin in the picture as a reference for size. Buttercup's poos were often longer than a quarter, whereas Mork and Mindy's are just under the length of a penny.

Healthy Droppings:

For the Love of Pigs

Post   » Tue Jun 25, 2013 12:44 pm

I'll be happy to post summaries when I can summons up the energy. Unfortunately, no fancy poo pics. I save all vet statements so I'll have all the info. along with what I posted.

Post Reply
203 posts